Report: Providence ranks poorly for income inequality

PROVIDENCE RANKED NO. 3 for cities with the highest income inequality in a study of the largest metropolitan areas in the country and the most-populous cities in those areas. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
PROVIDENCE RANKED NO. 3 for cities with the highest income inequality in a study of the largest metropolitan areas in the country and the most-populous cities in those areas. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – In 2016, Providence ranked No. 3 for highest income inequality among the most populous cities in the largest 100 metropolitan areas in the nation, according to a Brookings Institution report issued Wednesday.

Providence ranked behind only Atlanta and Washington, D.C., with a 16.7 ratio between the top 5 percentile of households and the bottom 20 percentile of households. The top 5 percentile households made an average annual income of $202,021 while the bottom 20 percentile averaged $12,118 in Providence in 2016. Deltona, Fla. was reported to have the lowest income inequality of any city in the study at 4.5.

Providence’s top 5 percentile income increased $2,615 from 2014 to 2016, while the bottom 20 percentile declined $854. The ratio between the top and bottom of the income scale increased from 15.4 in 2014.

The Providence-Warwick-Fall River metropolitan area ranked No. 20 for highest income inequality on the list with a 9.2 top 5 percentile compared to bottom 20 percentile ratio. The top 5 percentile in the metro area earned $211,785 per year, declining $27,734 from 2014. The bottom 20 percentile earned $22,981 in 2016, a $4,604 decline over the two years. The income inequality ratio between the two percentiles increased from 8.7 in 2014.

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The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn., was as the metro area with the highest income inequality in the United States, at a ratio of 14.2. Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, reported the lowest income inequality of any metro area in the study, at 5.2.

Also, while Providence as a city was reported to have a higher income inequality ratio than Boston (which also ranked poorly with the seventh-highest inequality ratio), the Providence metropolitan area, while still ranking in the worst 20, ranked better than the Boston-Cambridge-Newton metropolitan area, which had the 10th-largest income inequality ratio in the study at 10.

The study used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.